Senator Brown Introduces Bill To Protect Health Benefits For Retiring Workers
Bill would address workers deciding to retire or forego health insurance
November 10, 2014
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Columbus – Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) introduced Senate Bill 385 to prevent some public employees from losing their health benefits.  SB 385 would require that members of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) retiring on or after January 1, 2015, who have attained age sixty with fifteen or more years of service credit on that date, are treated as retiring on or before December 1, 2014, for purposes of qualifying for any retiree health care coverage provided by the Retirement System.

“There are over 22,000 public employees aged 60 years and older with between ten and twenty years of service who have been adversely affected by draconian changes to the health coverage offered by OPERS,” said Senator Brown. “These workers are facing a choice between unexpected early retirement and the possibility of losing health coverage through the OPERS system.”

By statute, the Ohio General Assembly gave OPERS the authority to make determinations regarding health care rules for retired Members of the System.  At the time of the most recent OPERS pension reforms in Senate Bill 343, the OPERS Board of Trustees made changes to the health care rules.  This included requiring retirees to have twenty years of qualifying service starting in 2015 rather than the present requirement of ten years for OPERS sponsored health care.

“OPERS has stated that this rule change is a way to save health care, but I feel older employees are being unfairly used to ‘fix’ decisions made in the past,” said Senator Brown. “It is important to protect and transition employees who may not reach the new twenty year requirement due to their age.”

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